The Face of a Valkyrie

Grace Lawler, Event Manager

As Valkyries we are called to be confident in our appearances, despite today’s media filled with digitally altered images of women. However, body positivity is already difficult to maintain, so when the school’s official portrait photographers drastically retouch yearbook photos, it gains a lot of attention.

Miller Photography has been working with Sacred Heart since 2004, taking single portraits as well as photos of clubs, sports team, and school events. This year, after some seniors received the drape photos they ordered, they were left feeling sick looking at what had been done to their facial features. Around 15 to 20 students found that their face had been heavily retouched in the photos.

“It honestly made me feel like my face wasn’t good enough for them,” senior Lauren Dooley said, “so they had to correct it, and make it an unrealistic expectation.”

Most seniors prefer to wear makeup for the session, but found that more makeup was added in the retouched photos no matter what. Senior Lilly Nooning was not wearing any makeup when her photos were taken and was sad when she received her order.

“I felt very upset because I purposefully went in without makeup because that’s who I am, instead I got some painted up version of me,” Nooning said. “I feel like because I’m a girl for some reason they felt inclined to smear my face with makeup, we paid for basic retouching for acne and such and instead got forced beauty standards.”

Before ordering portraits, they give you a preview booklet to choose from pictures that appear unedited. Families expect the photos in the preview booklet to be the ones they get printed, assuming any retouching had already been done lightly.

When ordering any portraits, it is clearly stated: “All photographs will be retouched to remove facial blemishes”, and notes that any further enhancements requires an additional charge. While that may sound reasonable, the end result does not match up. Seniors have observed that their skin was airbrushed, makeup was added, eyelashes were longer, eye color changed, and even the shape of noses changed. Senior Andie MacMillian felt her portrait looked nothing like her.

“They gave me a face transplant,” MacMillian said. “I thought I looked so good in the drape I ordered, so it was like a slap in the face that they wanted to change everything about me.”

Of the seniors that were affected, they felt the same way.

“It makes me mad that now I am comparing my real self to the edited version of myself” MacMillian said.

Senior Makalyn Kearney had another portrait session at Miller aside from her drapes and had the same experience.

“I am so embarrassed of my pictures I won’t even let my parents hang them or give them out to the rest of our family,” Kearney said.

After receiving complaints from seniors and their families, Miller Photography sent out the following letter addressing the situation:

We are aware that some of the seniors felt that their portraits produced this fall were over retouched or had too much enhancement done to the image. Those that have been brought to our attention have been corrected. Further we have been told that some of you are considering not picking up your order because you are worried that you will not like the portrait. Please know that we want you to be satisfied with your portrait order. We will have any portrait redone to remove the excessive enhancement work at your request.”

When asked further about the portraits, Donna Crutcher at Miller Photography explained the situation in greater detail.

“The enhancement issue was a matter of a lab employee getting a little overzealous and a little carried away and I not catching it initially,” Crutcher said. “He got carried away. I don’t know quite why, or what he was doing, or why he was doing it. But he did.”

Miller Photography truly cares about customer satisfaction and is taking action toward resolving the issue.

“That employee is no longer working in our lab and is no longer working on any of our products,” Crutcher said.

Miller Photography also emphasized that they will correct any enhancements students feel were extreme.